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Coughing is a protective reaction of the body to the toxins in cigarette smoke, which irritate the respiratory tract and lungs. A dry, irritated cough can occur when inhaling smoke but it stops shortly after the smoke has been coughed out of the lungs.
In contrast, a smoker's cough is due to long-term smoking, which causes damage and destruction of the protective cilia of the respiratory tract. Cilia are hair-like structures that sweep harmful substances out of the lungs. Cilia that are damaged or destroyed can no longer sweep harmful substances, such as dust, bacteria, and viruses out of the lung. This leads to a build-up of mucus mixed with these substances in the respiratory tract, which the body tires to clear by coughing.
Despite the effort of the smoke's cough to clear the respiratory tract, long-term smoking leads to an increased risk of developing pneumonia and acute bronchitis, due to the build-up of viruses and bacteria in the respiratory tract. A smoker's cough is generally a wet cough that is productive of phlegm, which can be clear, white, yellow-green or blood tinged.
A smoker's cough can also develop due to chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is a progressive, recurring inflammation of the lungs, most often due to the damage that long-term smoking causes to the lungs. Chronic bronchitis causes the production of an abnormally large amount of mucus, which can block airways, resulting in a smoker's cough. For more information about symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of smoker's cough.
Making a diagnosis of smoker's cough and/or acute bronchitis and/or chronic bronchitis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms and smoking history. A physical examination is also performed and includes listening with a stethoscope to the sounds that lungs make during respiration. Lung sounds that may point to an underlying diagnosis of bronchitis include wheezing and crackling sounds that can go away temporarily after coughing. There may also be decreased lung sounds.
In some cases, diagnostic testing can include lung function tests, such as a spirometry, which measures how much air is moved in and out of the lungs. A chest X-ray and CT scan of the chest can evaluate such factors as the presence of other conditions that may occur with long-term smoking and bronchitis, such as pneumonia and congestive heart failure. If there is severe shortness of breath, an arterial blood gas may be done. In this test a sample of blood is taken from an artery and tested for many parameters of effective respiration, including the oxygen level in the blood.
It is possible that a diagnosis of smoker's cough and/or chronic bronchitis and/or acute bronchitis can be missed or delayed because some symptoms are similar to symptoms of other diseases and conditions. For more information conditions and diseases that can mimic smoker's cough and bronchitis, refer to misdiagnosis of smoker's cough.
A diagnosis of smokers cough and underlying chronic bronchitis or acute bronchitis may be delayed or missed because some symptoms, are similar to symptoms of other diseases. These include upper respiratory infection, influenza, lung cancer, and pneumonia.
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A smoker's cough can be cured in many cases by quitting smoking or smoking cessation. The longer a person smokes, the harder it might be to quit and more likely that permanent damage may be done to the lungs resulting in such complications as lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and other forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, such as emphysema.
Smoking ...Smokers cough Treatments
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The list below shows some of the causes of Smokers cough mentioned in various sources:
This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Smokers cough. Of the 17 causes of Smokers cough that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:
The following list of conditions have 'Smokers cough' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.
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Medical Conditions associated with Smokers cough:
Throat symptoms (3410 causes), Respiratory tract symptoms (5166 causes), Mouth symptoms (6864 causes), Head symptoms (10192 causes), Cough symptoms (1407 causes), Lung symptoms (3280 causes), Common symptoms (8589 causes), Body symptoms (5672 causes), Breathing symptoms (3381 causes), Breath symptoms (3023 causes), Face symptoms (8109 causes)
Symptoms related to Smokers cough:
COPD, Chronic bronchitis (19 causes), Emphysema, Asthma (320 causes), Tuberculosis, Lung cancer (29 causes), Hemoptysis (176 causes), Fever (2274 causes), Laryngitis (23 causes), Pharyngitis (46 causes)
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